No. 24 UCLA blows big lead, rallies to beat Colorado 35-31
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) Colorado ran 114 plays and held the ball for more than 41 minutes while the latest wave of injuries washed over No. 24 UCLA’s already battered defense.
The weary Bruins weathered everything the Buffaloes could manage, and hung on to stay in control of the Pac-12 South race.
Soso Jamabo rushed for the go-ahead touchdown with 8:28 to play, and UCLA blew an 18-point lead before escaping the Rose Bowl with a 35-31 victory Saturday.
Josh Rosen passed for 262 yards and a touchdown for the Bruins (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12), who avoided an embarrassing loss despite giving up 18 consecutive points in the second half and yielding 554 total yards to the Buffaloes (4-5, 1-4), who haven’t beaten a ranked team on the road since 2002.
The Buffaloes dominated possession to an extraordinary degree, forcing UCLA’s depleted defense to stay on the field for 55 more snaps than its Colorado counterpart. The Bruins bent repeatedly, but stood up straight late.
”That was the longest game I’ve ever played on defense ever,” said linebacker Jayon Brown, who led the Bruins with 18 tackles. ”This was a first, just between the injuries we had, the new injuries we got and all their first downs. Hope we don’t ever have another one like this, but if we do, we’ll be ready.”
Patrick Carr rushed for 110 yards, and his TD run put Colorado ahead with 12:04 to play. The Bruins answered with Jamabo’s score before stopping the Buffaloes twice in UCLA territory on an 88-degree Halloween day in Arroyo Seco.
Takkarist McKinley’s pressure forced a poor throw by Sefo Liufau on fourth down with 3:34 to play. Freshman backup defensive back Nate Meadors intercepted a pass by Liufau near midfield with 51 seconds left.
”That was about as gritty a win as I’ve ever been around,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. ”To overcome the things that we overcame in terms of personnel, that was staggering. I couldn’t tell you who was in there on any given play. From cramps to sprained ankles to hamstrings, and then a true freshman seals it – a safety playing corner. That’s a team win.”
Paul Perkins had an 82-yard touchdown run among his 118 yards and two scores for UCLA, and Ishmael Adams returned an interception 96 yards for a second-quarter touchdown. Nate Starks rushed for a score for UCLA, which still could win the Pac-12 South by winning its final four regular-season games.
Liufau went 37 of 57 for 312 yards while Colorado set a school record for plays. The Buffs outgained UCLA by 144 yards, but still lost their 20th straight game against ranked teams, including 25 straight on the road.
”It is frustrating when you feel like you controlled the game, but didn’t come out on top,” Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. ”If you watched the game but never saw the scoreboard, I think you’d think we would have won the game, and that was disheartening.”
Samson Kafovalu returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter for Colorado.
Nelson Spruce became the Pac-12’s career receptions leader in the second quarter, finishing with 11 catches for 90 yards. Spruce has been a stalwart on four mediocre Colorado teams, and he passed the Pac-12 record of 259 catches set by Arizona’s Mike Thomas in 2008.
”It’s something I will be able to look back on and remember for the rest of my life,” Spruce said. ”But I probably would have traded a win for it, because this one hurt.”
After winning at Oregon State last week, Colorado hoped to build on its first Pac-12 victory since 2013. Instead, the Buffaloes wasted an enormous advantage in possession over the Bruins, running 40 plays to UCLA’s four in the second quarter alone.
During a frustrating first half, the Buffaloes got no points from two 16-play drives and managed only field goals from an 11-play drive and a 13-play drive.
Colorado was inside the UCLA 5 when Liufau was picked off by Adams, who returned it untouched down the UCLA sideline.
The Buffs finally got a break when Rosen fumbled while getting sacked. The ball went straight to Kafovalu, and the defensive tackle returned it with 14:37 to play. The Buffaloes then took a 31-28 lead on Carr’s TD run and a 2-point conversion.
AP College Football: www.collegefootball.ap.org